Wednesday, August 4, 2010

An Ah-Ha Moment!

Earlier today, thanks to a link posted on the Barefoot Runners Society forum, I read a great article by Steve Magness: The Biomechanics of Running.

When I was done I thought, "I finally get it! It's all about the hip extension!"

All along I've been equating hip extension with pushing off (pushing off = bad). As a result, I've been limiting the range of motion at my hip joint. But hip extension isn't pushing off -- it's pushing back -- and that makes all the difference!

I went out for a trail run at lunch today and focused on hip extension. I let the leg extend back and didn't try to pull the leg in too early (as it seems I've been doing all along). I ended up with a faster, easier run. And I *finally* understand a few other things that Barefoot Ken Bob suggests that just never really clicked for me.

- Let the hips rotate -- Previously, in my attempt to lift the foot I was actually pulling the leg forward too early. There was very minimal hip rotation. With my focus on the hip extension, the hip joint relaxes and rotates naturally.

- Relax, relax, relax -- I could never figure out how I was supposed to relax AND hold myself up AND propel forward. Now I understand that's just another way to say let the stretch reflex do the work (as described in Magness' article). Now it makes sense to me!

As Magness points out, "All runners will respond to a cue slightly differently, that is why it is important to come up with several different ways to say the same thing." Seems that's exactly what I needed.

My hope is that this adjustment to my form will help prevent my recurring TOFP and, as a bonus, will also make me a faster runner.


  1. Great post, Karen. I'm so glad you found something that could work for you. -TJ

  2. Hi, Karen. Just found your blog. I've been toying with barefoot running and loved it so much that, as many barefoot enthusiasts, went too far, too fast. Only now I am coming off Achilles tendon problems and beginning to run again. For now it is still in Nike Frees (for once I will listen to my dr) but probably next week he will give me green light to start barefoot. One thing I don't tell him :) is that I do quite a few hikes barefoot.
    Love your foot jewelry. I should make some for myself.Would look very cool on trails.

  3. Thanks, TJ. Ewa, it's so hard to hold back when it's so fun, isn't it?! Good luck getting past the tendon problems. They're the pits. Barefoot hikes are so enjoyable! Just take it slow and easy while you're healing. Thanks for stopping by!